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Why bad customer service cost a lot of money?
14 Mar, 2015. 0 Comments. Wise Advice. Posted By: Kasia Jankos

Why bad customer service is very expensive?

This is a real story and experience. This is the ugly truth about Shutterstock Customer Service.

Recently I had a “pleasure” to experience quite remarkable attitude from customer service representative at Shutterstock.

Until now I was only a Shutterstock oriented client. I did not buy any images from any other stock market, for any particular reason apart from price.


The Story.

One day I get email from Shutterstock saying I can get 25% discount on the next order – that was it. I needed to get number of images anyway, so it was perfect opportunity to save a bit of money.

Next thing I did, which was my mistake, I’ve clicked subscribe before applying the discount code in the basket. Since I was in rush I’ve purchased another subscription with the actual discount applied to it and this is where the chain of bad experience started.


Saying bad, isn’t enough.

Instead of trying to write you the whole story I will list experience and observations:

  • I asked for a refund on the packaged without the discount.
  • Instead I’ve received refund on the discounted package.
  • After initial email to Shutterstock customer service the replay I’ve got said that I can’t get refund on the package I asked for and that it is my fault.
  • Why it’s my fault? Because I should choose which subscription I used when downloading (there is no such option available on Shutterstock).
  • I was also told that I’m violating terms of service by having a different name and surname on the account (for billing purposes only).
    As far as I know, client is always right, and this article is a pure example of this statement. I’ve lost about £30 on this “transaction” but Shutterstock is in this case in much bigger loss.


Reason why?

  • They have lost a client who spend hundreds if not thousands of pounds already.
  • I would spend much more in the near future, like considerably more, perhaps 2-10 more in coming years.
  • I will share with everyone who will ask me about stock markets to avoid Shutterstock, and this is extremely dangerous – word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool (I will explain why in future articles). So we can consider this as decent loss in profits over long period of time.
  • This article is shared online, as you can read it now so it will have significant impact and much bigger reach, which will further exaggerate Shutterstock profit losses, which can’t be predicted, but it will affect them in negative way again.



I’m very surprised that so well-known stock market has such an ancient approach to customer service. This made me thinking bit deeper about this aspect and if we look at other brands we can find a pattern that big name usually have a bad customer service, apart from very few, who really care about this.

  1. Lack of quality procedures is clearly visible in the way how this case was handled. Pretty much ebay alike, old school start-ups style of handling customer service issues.
  2. Customer service staff wasn’t well oriented in the system itself by pointing out to system options or terms which don’t exist.
  3. The system itself isn’t designed to be fair – for example the fact subscriptions are turned ON for automatic renewal isn’t fair. This basically means that Shutterstock at its core thinks and wants to rip you off if they can.
  4. There are number of technical flaws on the site.
  5. Their terms of service are pretty ridiculous as well. Basically if you look well into their entire T&C’s you can’t do much with the image anyway and we should put credits to the site and authors all over the place.


  • Be careful who are you going to use for your stock resources, read their terms and conditions before committing to purchase.
  • Think twice before you hit that ORDER button, because you might find out (in case of problems) that customer service is rude, ignorant and in fact you can’t get the case resolved unless you go the legal route.
  • If you struggle with your own business or get a lot of criticism from clients – this might be a right time to look into work of your customer service representatives and how they handle issues.
  • Customer service procedures and guidelines are equally important as marketing. If you can’t retain new clients and build the trust, you won’t be able to grow and will face significant struggles on the long run, significant contributor for company liquidation.
  • In the time of markets saturation, global access and powerful social networks you do not want leave your clients with bad experience. This leads to negative word of mouth which is one of the most influential ways of spreading any kind of experience.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed one of the real case scenario articles. If you find it helpful you might want to subscribe to our newsletter to get early access to our articles, eBooks and giveaways. The latter are exclusive to FutureSight News subscribers.



so please remember

“Bad customer service cost a lot of money.”

Something Extra

for those who want to make a difference and take action now

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“When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better. Your customer service organization should be designed to efficiently communicate those issues.”

by Kristin Smaby, “Being Human is Good Business”

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About the Author

Kasia Jankos Kasia has extremely objective, almost censorious approach to life - especially work. She’s equally professional and will not rest until the project is finished at world class standard. As a true ISFJ she fights against the odds to find a balance between work and life. FutureSight co-founder.

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